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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • I have a Subaru Outback that started overheating as many others in forums have written obout. Temperature guage buried on H, bubbles in the reserve tank with a light film of dark solution, and loss of antifreeze in the radiator regularly. I would assume it was the head gasket as I changed out the radiator as it blew out and replaced the top radiator hose as it continually collapsed. This is what I did to remedy MY problem and it may not work for everyone BUT if it works for you as it did for me, it is a whole lot cheaper than tearing into the engine. I removed the 2 bolts by the lower radiator hose at the thermostat and let it drain. Took out old thermostat and took a garden hose and flushed out radiator good. Then plugged radiator hose and engine outlet with rags and filled radiator full. Did this a few times to flush ALL antifreeze from engine and radiator. Then I cut the guts out of the old thermostat so it was free flowing . I installed it in the car and installed 2 bolts. Also remove overflow tank and drain. I put in about a quart of water and purchased a quart of BLUE DEVIL from Schucks Auto and poured all of it in radiator and filled with water. Need to make sure radiator is full and engine burped. Jack up front of car. Let car idle for 45 minutes then you can drive around if you want. Temp guage will fall to cold but that was ok, in all I let my car run constantly for 2 1/2 hours. Kept an eye on guages so it never got hot. Stayed in mid range where it should. Drain solution from thermostat area, let cool down for 2 hours or more, install new 170 thermostat, gallon antifreeze and water. It took me a half hour to burp system of air with front of car in air. I squeezed upper radiator hose and all to help it along. As this is going on have car running with heater on and blower on high. All should be well when HOT air comes out of heater. It fixed my problem and it could help you. I have been on the road for 3 months now and it cost $65
  • samiam_68samiam_68 Posts: 775
    That sounds very interesting, and thanks for sharing the detailed steps but I'm not sure I'm following - did you or did you not have a blown head gasket? If you did, I don't understand how your solution would have fixed the bad gasket.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Swapping a motor on a Subaru with the same year or compatible motor is a 10-12hr job MAX, even for a small operation like my shop's. $1500 to install it isn't outrageous, but a bit high IMHO.

    I'd go for the teardown and then if it needs more than the shortblock, go for the engine swap.

    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • tanagertanager Posts: 16
    Thanks for the reply Mike. I would go for the teardown without a second thought if it didn't cost $850. If I go for the teardown and then find out the shortblock is not going to cut it & heads/cams are bad, I'm looking at a repair nearing $8000. That's what the dealer told me. If that's the case, I can't authorize that repair (unless Subaru pays for A LOT of it) and I'll have to take it to my independent mechanic. Herein lies the dilemma....go for the teardown and risk losing $850 if Subaru can't help me, or just give up on help from the dealer and take it to my mechanic where I know the repair cost won't exceed $4600.
    Sorry to the forum folks for carrying on about this issue.
    I am going to talk to Subaru headquarters again today, since they never called me back last week. If they can give me a glimmer of hope that they'll help, I'll probably go for the teardown.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Well, that's the thing, though. Once the $850 is spent, you know whether it needs more than the short block. At that point, you will not need to spend $8000 because you could just have the car towed back to your mechanic, where the added cost is "only" $4600. In fact, perhaps you should find out what work the dealership plans in order to diagnose the extent of the damage. At $850, you should request that they remove the engine from the car. Maybe then labor would be less through your independent mechanic, as part of the prep work is done. I might be dreaming, though, since the poor man would then have to deal with whatever mess is left by the dealership. :sick:

    $3100 for a complete engine seems on par.

    What a crummy situation. I cannot help but think this is a manifestation of something the previous owner may have done to it. If it was a manufacturing issue, it would surprise me that 100,000 miles passed before it caused failure. Possible, but tough to fathom.
  • tanagertanager Posts: 16
    Thanks, good point. It's a good idea to find out if they will remove the entire engine and perhaps save my mechanic some labor. My mechanic has done nothing but look out for my best interests in this situation, so I know he wouldn't mind...unless the engine is in shambles and I have to deliver it in pieces in a big cardboard box or something. :(
    I know with these crazy numbers flying around, $850 seems like peanuts. But I will find it hard to stomach the $850 on top of the $4600, if it's all for naught.
    Does anyone know if it's possible, or even worth it, to find out who the original owner of the car was? Then maybe I can contact them and find out if they were honest with the dealer about an engine issue, and then the dealer was dishonest. But if the original people abused the engine and didn't originally confess that to the dealer, then they're not going to admit it to me either.
    Also, I had a CarFax report done, and it didn't show any accidents or rebuilt anything. Can things be hidden from CarFax?
    :lemon: --This should be the symbol of my existence for now.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'm not so sure about the problem showing up initially. I have a customer who's LGT started burning 1Q/1K miles at about 45k miles, The dealers have been doing an oil consumption test for 6k miles after replacing his turbo, thinking the seals on the turbo were the issue. Now they are on his case about maintenance records, when he does his own maintenance and documented it in

    While they haven't denied the claim yet, they haven't said they'll pay for it either...

    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Regarding the PO, yes, it is possible, but who knows if it is worth it. The added history might be interesting, though! I am not sure why the person would not want to be open and honest about it. If that person abused the car, you could not go back to seek damages from them. The phrase "caveat emptor" bears no better application than to used cars and real estate.

    The only thing that carfax will show is something that hits its DMV or, I think, insurance records. So, yes, there are many things that can happen to a car that would not show up there.
  • Pulsing in my brakes (06 Forester) suggests that the rotors may need to be resurfaced and I was told by the dealer that this is covered under the warrantee.
    Two months ago my local mechanic checked my brakes and said that the pads were ok.(worn about 40%) So if the rotors are resurfaced can I still use the old pads or should I replace with new pads? I do not want to spend unnecessary $$

  • samiam_68samiam_68 Posts: 775
    You can keep the old pads. That happened to my 04 Forester. The dealer just resurfaced the rotors, kept the old pads, and the vibration was gone.
  • First off a big hello to all the old members... I haven't been on the board for some time.

    I am about to embark on a 5,500 mile road trip in my 2001 Legacy GT wagon. Everything has been great with the car.

    Should I go ahead and have the timing belt done now ahead of schedule?

    Brakes are original but pads amazingly still look okay. I do occasionally notice a little pulsing that likely means a warped rotor. Should I do brakes and if so all new rotors?

    Along with oil, filters, plugs, cooling flush is there any other maintenance I should do?

    What is the current thinking on plug brand and type?

    Thanks to all.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'd do pads and rotors, at least in the front.

    I'd also get the timing belt done too, can't hurt to get it done ahead of schedule, and it would suck to have to get it done on the trip.

    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • Thanks Mike.

    My dealer is doing the timing belt and the mechanic says I should do water pump while I am at it. What's the life expectancy of the pump?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Yup water pump yoo. Not sure of the life expectancy but I always get it with the TB.

    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • pilot1226pilot1226 Posts: 165

    We have a 2009 Subaru Legacy Limited with just about 2500 miles on it. Recently, the TPMS light has been coming on. I figured that this is most likely due to the change in air temperature lately as the fall air turns from cool to cold, and we're starting to see frost.

    I took the Legacy to the gas station about a tenth of a mile away and filled the wheels to the specifications outlined in the Owner's Manual (we have the Yokohamas) and the light remained on. I didn't put more air into it - yet - because I didn't want to exceed the PSI listed on the sidewall.

    I called Subaru Service and they said that as you drive, the wheels will warm up, and the light should go out. They've mentioned if it does not go out after 3 days to schedule a service appointment.

    Has anyone else heard of any issues with the TPMS? My aunt had an issue with the sensor on her Nissan and she has told our family countless horror stories of having to go back to the Nissan dealer dozens of times before they'd actually fixed it.
  • There was a similar issue with the WRX STI Edmunds is driving as part of their long term fleet. In cold weather, they also had to add air to their tires to keep the TPMS light turned off. ld-tire-pressure.html
  • pilot1226pilot1226 Posts: 165
    Thanks. I don't keep the car in a garage, it's outside in a parking lot, but I will see if I could put a few more PSI into each tire, staying under the limit on the sidewall of course. It's unfortunate that the TPMS can't tell me WHICH tire is too low, as that would be an easy way to troubleshoot to see if the sensor's borked.
  • My 2007 OBW had the same issue when I drive it in the mountains. Eventhough the tire pressure is correct according to the recommended pressures, leaving the car outside at altitude and cold temperatures guarantees the light will come on.
    On a recent road trip back east, the TPMS light would start flashing after about 300 miles of driving in a day. The tire pressure was good. Since the light flashed and was not steady, according to the manual, it was a system problem not a pressure problem. When I got back, I took it to the dealer who found no codes and therefore no problems. I'm sure once the warranty is expired it will be a lot easier for the dealer to find and correct the problem.
    I feel the TPMS is a nice idea that doesn't work and is definitely more trouble than it's worth. Subaru knows about this problem and could care less.
  • jdljrjdljr Posts: 11
    I have a 2009 Legacy SE and yesterday the TPMS light came on for the first time while on my way to work. "Man, am I getting a flat tire, am I going to be able to make it to work?", I thought to myself (I live in the mountains of NC and there are NO services in the 20 miles from my house to work). I got to work fine and parked, thinking I'd check the tire pressure at lunchtime. When the time came for lunch, I drove to a gas station to check the tire pressure and it appeared all were ok, but I added a couple pounds to each of them since the light was still on. I drove the 1/4 mile back to work and within that distance the light did not go off. So I looked at the owner's manual and found out that it may take a few minutes to re-sense the pressure, and I may not have driven it long enough. So after work, and only 2-3 minutes after leaving, the light went out. Didn't come on today.

    But it makes me wonder...WHAT made the light come on? I guess I could have a slow leak, but I doubt it. It did not appear the pressure was low in any of the tires...and I completely agree with a previous poster that it would be nice to know WHICH tire was the culprit. It was cold the past few mornings (mid 20s) and I HOPE that it's not going to be a wintertime issue because of the frigid temperatures we experience. I'm not crazy about having this system on the car (I remember having it on a rental car years ago and I hated it then) and I am hoping that it won't prove to be an annoyance.

    I do have a question though, does the TPMS also sense the pressure in the spare tire in the trunk? I couldn't find anything in the owner's manual about that. My hunch is NO, since the manual talked about the TPMS not being able to monitor the pressure if one of the tires was removed and replaced, but I just wondered.
  • Should I buy a 1987 Subaru Legacy for $500?
    It has about 180k. Everything works well. Is it worth it?
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